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Spotlight on Software: The LIMS Market

A quick snapshot of the latest offerings from the major LIMS vendors.

by Gloria Metrick
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Here’s what’s new with the major LIMS (laboratory information management system) vendors. (“Major” refers to the fact that these are the software vendors with the greatest share of the LIMS market, and they often compete directly with each other.) Although these products can be used in smaller installations, we often associate them with enterprise-wide LIMS projects.

Applied Biosystems

Applied Biosystems claims that most LIMS vendors are no longer competing with each other to add features because many of them have already built the features customers need into their systems. But one area where Applied sees it can make a difference is by greatly reducing the effort that customers must put into the validation of LIMS implementations.

Its new offering is P4 (SQL*LIMS P4 Plug & Play Pharma Package), a business solution designed to lower validation costs for the pharmaceutical market. Applied Biosystems has studied the pharmaceutical market to determine what features are most used, built those into this solution, and created validation scripts to support it. The company has also run these scripts so that customers can audit this activity. In addition, it is focusing on user adoption of P4 and getting data back out of it.

Another recent addition to the company’s strategy is the ICE (Innovation Exchange Center), which is “a searchable repository allowing users to search for code already submitted within their area of interest.”

LabVantage Solutions

LabVantage Solutions now offers a “guaranteed quality management solution” with its SAPPHIRE LIMS product, which comes with a full money-back guarantee on its $90,000, 90-day implementation. The company previously deployed this strategy for its biobanking solution, but it has now expanded this type of offering into laboratory information management.

SAPPHIRE is built around the testing of raw materials and finished goods, which includes the most common features of such implementations, such as result, entry, and skip-lot testing. Other features, such as stability management, standards and reagents capabilities, and CAPA (corrective and preventative action) activities, which are not included in this basic installation, can be added. This strategy is meant to allow customers to demonstrate quick success by deploying rapidly and getting an early ROI (return on investment).

Additionally, LabVantage has integrated SAPPHIRE with Waters NuGenesis and Waters Empower, which improves automation and workflow. It also has enhanced its SAP interface.


Building on its “Configure Once – Deploy Anywhere” program, LabWare recently updated its LIMS so that users can now use it from anywhere. Under this “enterprise-wide mobile strategy,” users can access the LabWare LIMS with any browser on any piece of equipment, including all handheld and wireless devices, regardless of operating system. This makes the LabWare LIMS browser- and platform-independent, as well as database-independent. Thus, all browser and hardware combinations are available, adding to the system’s previous capability of running on client-server and/or Citrix configurations.

This latest version of LabWare’s LIMS also has the ability to use character sets from any language, including those from the Far East, such as Chinese. Also, to conform to the FDA’s reinterpretation of 21 CFR Part 11 (electronic signatures and electronic records), LabWare has added features to its electronic-signature capabilities to allow more flexibility in how and when e-sigs are applied.


The latest additions to the STARLIMS product include more ELN (electronic laboratory notebook) features, and the addition of methodexecution features to its current SDMS (scientific data management system) features.

The new features ensure that SOPs (standard operating procedures) are followed.

STARLIMS allows the SOP to be defined by its steps and allows hyperlinks to parts of the SOP to be embedded in those steps. This is done by creating a script to define the SOP.

As the user executes the method, the system can be set up to gather the data from an instrument such as a balance, or from instrument software such as Waters Empower. It can also be set up to verify the data as it is gathered, and to check other associated data, such as verifying that reagents being used by the method have not expired.

STARLIMS can now be interfaced with SAP without using QM-IDI.

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific is focusing on “end-to-end laboratory solutions,” with its latest offering being Thermo Scientific CONNECTS.

“CONNECTS” is the name the company has given to its new service, which integrates all those pieces of software that are part of an overall strategy. For example, it is not uncommon for companies to have some or all of these systems: LIMS, CDS (chromatography data system), ELN, instrumentation and hardware, document management, and enterprise systems. Coordinating and linking these systems together is a big job, and Thermo Fisher, with its extensive experience in this area, has decided to put the name “CONNECTS” on its service to show that it recognizes this as a separate and significant task to address.

Generally, Thermo Fisher has decided to take a larger role in enterprisewide decision making, from R&D to sending products out the door. That means it is focusing not just on LIMS, but on integrating it into the entire enterprise strategy. As another part of this approach, the company recently partnered with Symyx Technologies to include Symyx ELN software products in Thermo Fisher’s offerings.

N.B.: SQL*LIMS was bought by LabVantage on Aug. 11. Soon, there will be only four major LIMS vendors.

Gloria Metrick is owner of GeoMetrick Enterprises (, which provides consulting services for laboratory informatics projects. She can be reached at 781-365-0180 or